First time ewe wont let babies nurse

WindyIndy

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Hey all! Man it's been awhile, I miss posting. Life is crazy right now though, got a new job and am working 48-50 hours a week, on top of everyday life, and farming.

Anyway, lambing time has began! I already have twin rams and twin ewes (with 3 more sheep to go). Both of these are from first time mothers. The ram's mom did wonderful! They were born Wednesday. I was at work but my mama got the birth on camera and she didn't even yell. She cleaned them right away and they were up and nursing very quickly, she's dong a wonderful job and they are already getting nice and plump.
The girls were just born this morning. I again was at work but they are both up and walking around. They seem very strong and healthy but this mama keeps walking away every time they try to nurse. The one girl is starting to look skinny too. I tried to offer them a bottle but they keep fighting it and I don't want it to go down the wrong way. I also tried to hold the mama down while they nursed but I think they were having trouble and they kept stopping and I can't hold the mama and help the babies at the same time. Everyone else in the house is gone so it's only me. I sadly don't have a head gate either, I could tie her head and hold the back end but I also don't want her to chock herself.
Last year I had a first timer have trouble with her lambs but after I helped show her what to do she had some of the biggest ones at butcher time!

I'm thankfully home tomorrow but start work again Monday and my family will be busy to have bottle babies. Does anyone have any ideas of what I could do? I just want these little ones to be ok...
 

WindyIndy

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Oh, and if anyone has any banding tips I have decided to band the ram's. I also already have 3 spoken for!
 

Sheepshape

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Sorry about your problems.

Here's what I'd do....firstly, pen them into a small pen. Check the ewe has colostrum (pull the teats and check there's no wax plug). Give the ewe plenty of food and water, hungry ewes may not want to let lambs nurse. If you have a dog, bring the dog to the small pen and let him/her look at the ewe.....mum usually is so taken up with protection that the lambs can nurse un-noticed.

If the lambs aren't too interested in nursing, then they may not be hungry.

Hope all sorts out.
 

WindyIndy

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Thank you so much! Yes we already checked for wax plugs and those are out and it's flowing. She has food, water, loose mineral, and is already in a small pen. She gave birth in there. I forgot to say that she has also been headbutting the babies once in awhile too. :( She's one of my friendliest girls and I figured she wouldn't have a problem, sigh.

I could try the dog. I have a guard dog and a family dog. I am hoping to find a long term fix though too, not just a temporary.
 

Latestarter

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Hope you get it sorted out. Most comments I've read on this sort of situation go one of two ways... either tie the ewe off to a fence and force her to nurse the lambs until she figures it out, or pull the lambs and make them bottle babies. It may take a day or two for the lambs to accept the bottle. If the mother won't relent, you probably won't have a choice. You may then have to force feed the lambs until they'll accept the bottle. Hope you'll keep us updated...
 

norseofcourse

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Sorry you're having trouble with the lambs, hopefully they got some colostrum from mom, or you were able to milk some out and get it into them. It's hard to hold a ewe still enough when you're on your own. I had to a couple years ago, mom had twins but didn't want both. I put a rope around her neck and tied her short to something, then I had to hold up a back leg to get her still enough to let the lamb nurse. I was lucky as he had already figured it out, she had let him nurse at first then decided she only wanted the one. It took nearly a week of holding her before she was ok on her own, but each time it got better, I only had to hold her rear leg up a few times.

Check to make sure the lambs don't have sharp teeth (lower fronts), that can make a ewe not let them nurse. If they do, a quick filing with a nail file will take the sharp edge off.

Good luck with them!
 

Sheepshape

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Unfortunately,sometimes momma ewes do reject their lambs, or one of two, particularly if there was a longish gap between births or one of the lambs wandered off after being born.First-time mums or ewes who have had bad/assisted births can be the same.

It just occurred to me to say to check that mum isn't getting mastitis which may be putting her off suckling her lambs.
 

WindyIndy

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Hey everyone! Sorry for not updating sooner, was busy with mama and also moving the boys out to the big pasture so I could bring another in.
I did check for the mastitis and sharp teeth right away, there was none of that. After I was watching her more I determined that she may have been having some udder pain, she would look back at it and paw the ground. I called the vet and he said to do warm compresses and aspirin. He said could be a combo of pain, new mother, and her uterus still contracting. He said he would be surprised if she didn't calm down after awhile and accept them. I'm giving her two aspirin every 8 hours. She definitely has calmed down now and will let them nurse somewhat but still moves around a lot. The lambs are hanging in there but I hope she lets them nurse even more soon so they can grow good. She keeps wanting to get out of the pen but I won't take her out until I'm certain that she'll take care of them.
I did try holder her down for awhile but that didn't go over too well, I even threw out my shoulder a little,lol. That was before the aspirin though ;)

I'll just continue to keep an eye on her, I'm proud of her so far for finally letting them nurse somewhat. They still don't want bottles, probably because they are getting some stuff from her so that's good. I go back to work tomorrow but the family will be here to keep an eye out.
 

norseofcourse

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Sounds like you're covering things well - hope they continue to nurse and mom comes around fully!
 

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